If karma does indeed exist, it showed little mercy toward Martin Shkreli on Friday.
Moments before he was sentenced to seven years in prison in U.S. District Court in New York, Shkreli broke down in tears and asked for “your honor’s mercy” in court. “I was never motivated by money. I was trying to grow my stature and reputation,” he said. “There is no government conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli with my disgraceful and shameful actions.”
Judge Kiyo Matsumoto gave him a box of tissues during his tear-filled remarks.
The notorious 34-year-old ex-exec, often referred to as “Pharma Bro” or “The Most Hated Man in America,” was sentenced for defrauding investors of his hedge funds and for manipulating the stock of his pharmaceutical company, Retrophin.
The prosecution argued that Shkreli lied about how much money he raised for his hedge fund to lure investors, and failed to inform them when he incurred massive losses after a bad stock bet. After losing all of his investors’ money, he borrowed money from other investors or took stock and cash from his own drug company to pay them back. They asked for Shkreli to be sentenced for 15 years.
Government prosecutors said that Shkreli “stole money for his personal benefit” and is solely motivated by “his own image.” They claimed that the defense had “babysat” him, saying “He is about to turn 35 years old. He’s a man who needs to take responsibility for his actions.”
Shkreli’s defense had proposed a 12 to 18 month sentence, claiming that his “investors eventually made money and said the jury erred by convicting Shkreli on some of the counts he faced.” Judge Matsumoto rejected those claims during the proceedings.
His defense attorney, Ben Brafman, told the judge that, “There are times I want to hug [Shkreli]... There are times when I want to punch him in the face.” He added that Shkreli “cannot always control awkward, inappropriate behaviors.”
Defense testimonials that spoke on behalf of a lesser sentence for Shkreli included letters from professionals “who vouched for his credentials as a self-made contributor to pharmaceutical advances.” Others vouched for him by appreciating his valuable social media presence, and claiming he had a “softer side” by adopting a cat he named “Trashy.”
“I really appreciate the social media output, which I see on par with some form of performance art,” one woman wrote.
Shkreli’s schemes stretch long before his charges, however. The Pharma Bro is most famous for taking the 62-year-old drug Daraprim, used to treat newborn HIV patients, and jacking up the price 5,000 percent while CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015. Price per pill went from $13.50 to $750 each.
Since then, Shkreli had basked in his own infamy. He bought a $2 million dollar and one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album, publicly bragged about how he owned a Picasso painting, and announced a bounty of $5,000 for any one of his 70,000 Facebook followers who could provide him samples of Hillary Clinton’s hair while she was on her book tour.
But karma also came for Shkreli’s antics. The album and the painting were taken as part of $7.36 million of assets seized by the courts, and his Facebook post about Clinton cost him his bail for “solicitation of assault.”
“He doesn’t have to apologize to me,” Matsumoto said, while revoking his bond in September. “He should apologize to the government, the Secret Service, and Hillary Clinton.”
What’s next for Pharma Bro? Brafman said that he’ll be filing for appeal. But in the meantime, he’ll reside in prison—away from the stock schemes, pill prices, rap albums, and social media scandals that got him there in the first place.